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Do you offer your online buyers a phone option?

For giving you their credit card and other sensitive info?



8:15 pm on Dec 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I keep hearing that the vast majority of people will not buy online because of security concerns and I'm wondering how much of the concern would be alleviated by allowing people to make a phone call to enter their credit card information (or have the service call them).

I'm also wondering because I think I have the capacity to setup such a service.

I think I've seen them before. Experiences?


8:27 pm on Dec 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Our customers can order via the phone or via the website.

About 5% choose the telephone, the rest order online.



8:32 pm on Dec 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I make sure that the online visitor sees a real address and a telephone number (not toll free), that they can call to deliver a credit card number or to ask a question. I believe that the lack of either will scare off shoppers.

I make it a point when visiting any website to see what address information there is on the site and how easy it is to find. I'm surprised how often merchants want you to give them your address and credit card information when their location data is missing or difficult to find.

Are you suggesting some unattended system to do this for you? I believe that this will create more confusion than you intend.



9:46 pm on Dec 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

vast majority of people will not buy online because of security concerns

"Vast majority" seems like a dramatic overstatement, but it's always a good idea to give your customers options. If they want to give you money, make it as easy on them as possible. And as jbinbpt pointed out, an automated / unattended system might only make things worse.


9:57 pm on Dec 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

You guys need to check the archive on some a/b testing with and without 800 numbers prominently on the site. I don't have a clue where the thread is. I've done the tests myself and having an 800 number does absolute wonders to your conversion rates! And from experience, the more expensive your products the higher phone order rate you'll have.


9:59 pm on Dec 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I get a fair number of phone orders, say between 5% and 10%. Even more important in my mind though are the calls that people place to confirm things before they purchase. I would say this brings the total up to between 15% and 20% of orders where the phone contact resulted in a sale. I recently added an 800 number option in adition to the regular phone number, so that might have helped. The calls are cheap, in fact not much more than a CPC hit to the site since most are under 3 minutes or so. The 800 number costs for the last two months are maybe a 1/2 of a percent or less of the total sales that have resulted from phone contact.

It does help that I have someone available to answer the phone when the call comes in. I'm not sure a voice mail solution would be anywhere near as good. And despite initial waorries, the latest call that has come in was 10pm. Many of the calls are concerning special requests which are not handled as well in an internet environment as a simple one minute phone call.


10:04 pm on Dec 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

for my business I think a 800 # is essential - I deal in higher end goods and although I don't know the actual percentage of phone orders - it must be around 20%. Really helps for the big ticket items - and when someone does call to ask a question that just tells me that I need to make that information easier to find on my website, so it really helps to improve the usability of my site also.

Besides I live in canada and to have a 800# that works in all of north america is only 9 cents(CND) - Thats dirt cheap for the benifit and sales it will bring.


10:16 pm on Dec 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have been around for a year now and have not had phone service unless they ask in an email. Most emails are replied to within a half hour anyway, so i've probably only had about 5-10 irate customers that needed phone numbers.

I agree that it definitely establishes trust and my sales would go up as a result, but the time commitment i would have to make would go up so much more. we're a small business and have decided to stick with email for now. as we grow, we will do phones our self, i'm not as reluctant to hire an outside firm to handle phones since they won't know the product as well.


10:27 pm on Dec 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I take phone calls for orders most of the time now. But there are times when I can't be in. For this purpose, there is an answer machine which states we will call back; I really should change it to an 'all lines are engaged' message, but that may sound silly if people ring after hours!

Many people call in - some have technical difficulties with the site (often they have the difficulty, not the site, but not always!), some fear security issues, some simply cannot access secure pages or don't want to order through someone else's computer (work restrictions etc...). You can find out a lot about the way people use your site when they call to tell you they can't find certain information and it is there. It helps to improve the site for the customer, and not for what you think the next change should be.

I won't order from any company that hides their contact details.


1:33 am on Dec 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Hmm...sounds like the people who care enough to offer a phone number are already taking the CC info if it is offered that way.

Regarding the "majority", I can't remember but I thought I read somewhere that only 15% of Americans are willing to buy online (?) Anybody know the actual %?


7:14 pm on Dec 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

We've offered call-in ordering since the day we started.

What we do is have them place the order using the web site, selecting "call in" as the payment method and then we give them instructions in the e-mail confirmation.

But we also get a fair number of phone calls directly, and we're only too happy to take orders on the phone. All we do when they call is gather the information they would have entered on the web site and go do it for them, but we don't enter their credit card information.

We also offer ordering by fax, but not a single person has taken that route (who even has a fax machine these days?)

The way I see it, if a customer wants to buy your products, you ought to make it as easy as you can for them. If they want to call, I'll either answer the phone or return their call shortly. If they don't want to enter their credit card information online because of some perceived fear, that's fine - call me and I'll take it that way.

We added an 800-number shortly after starting up, and for all but in-state calls, it's cheaper than my outbound long distance. And having the number adds immeasurably to the "legitimacy" factor for your site, just as having your business name and address listed prominently does.


7:16 pm on Dec 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

And from experience, the more expensive your products the higher phone order rate you'll have



9:39 pm on Dec 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I agree - people who ring in orders tend to spend more money. Having your contact details on every single page on your site is an absolute must, it just brings confidence to the table and will sway people standing in the grey.

For us in the UK getting a toll-free number can be quite expensive. BT or Eircom charge up to 90 per quarter and then something like 0.40 per minute for every caller, which is just ridiculous.

The best way round it for me was to get a US toll-free number as most of my customers are American. I got it from a company that was recommended to me by a WW member and it worked really weel, got the number immediately and only needed to spend $25 to set up the account, including a balance.

I have already taken orders through the number, and yes, it was above average in terms of the spend. Telephone options? Well worth it!


11:53 pm on Dec 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I love phone orders, and not just because they are larger spenders.

Nothing is more useful than actually talking to your customers. You can find out what they like, don't like, why they bought, what they are going to use your items for, and what else they'd like to see.

Its nearly impossible to get that sort of thing online.

At least with many lines of business, you'll also tend to sell more items with the order than you would strictly on the web. Our site sells women's clothing, and I've answered countless questions on the phone that have resulted in additional sales that I don't think would have occured just from the website. (e.g. Hmm, I need some pants to go with that top, but I don't want something that sits too low on my waist. What do you recommend?)


9:29 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I definately recommend having an active toll free order line for all e-commerce sites, which can be handled live in house or outsourced to a call center (budget dependant).


10:10 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

We offer our contact information as a footer, but I think I'll add it to the header for visibility. Some customers don't feel comfortable providing their credit card details in any situation, so you lose out on those buyers if you don't offer solutions flexible to them.

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